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Patagonia town marshal blasts Havasu police shooting investigation

July 28, 2018

Joseph Patterson explored the home where police killed 56-year-old Brent C. Bowdon during an early morning domestic disturbance call.

As he looked upon the dusty street and walked the property, every step left him with more questions.

“While I am not ‘investigating’ or ‘looking into’ the incident, I am very curious about many aspects of this officer-involved shooting,” Patterson said in an email to Today’s News-Herald. “The more I look at the uncleaned street and walk the property, I have increased the number of questions and question the investigative procedures into the incident.”

Patterson is town marshal of Patagonia, which lies less than 20 miles north of Nogales. It’s the kind of place where everybody knows everybody and word travels fast, according to residents. As the chief law enforcement officer of Patagonia and a personal friend of Bowdon, Patterson traveled to Havasu this week to find out what information he could for Bowdon’s family. The community was shaken when Patagonia residents learned that one of their own was killed during an encounter with Lake Havasu City Police officers early Wednesday morning, he said.

Bowdon’s death is being investigated by the Kingman Police Department, which hasn’t yet revealed the names of the officers involved in the shooting incident. It’s also not yet clear whether Bowdon had a weapon during the incident.

Patterson said Friday that he knew the names of the officers, but wanted to let the investigation play out.

Bowdon was president of the Patagonia Regional Business Coalition, according to reports by the Nogales International. He owned two businesses in Patagonia, and was a key figure in the town’s mining industry. He was also a fire captain at Patagonia Volunteer Fire and Rescue.

Officers were dispatched to Bowdon’s rented home on the 2600 block of Rainbow Lane at about 3 a.m. Wednesday in response to an open 911 call, in which dispatchers could hear a man and woman screaming, according to a Lake Havasu City press release this week. Witnesses at the scene said a female, identified as Bowdon’s wife, approached officers from the residence when they arrived. Bowdon approached officers shortly afterward, the release said.

Witnesses at the scene said Bowdon may have been armed, as officers told him to drop a weapon. When Bowdon failed to comply, three Lake Havasu City Police officers opened fire. The officers involved in Bowdon’s death have been placed on paid administrative leave, as is standard procedure in any officer-involved shooting.

According to Lake Havasu City Police officials, it is the practice of the department to refer investigation into any officer-involved shooting to other law enforcement agencies in order to prevent a biased investigation, or the appearance of such. Investigation of Bowdon’s death was undertaken by the Kingman Police Department this week.

Patterson arrived in Havasu on Wednesday to bring Bowdon’s wife, Alice Bowdon, home to Patagonia after securing the family’s rented home and belongings. On Thursday, Patterson returned with questions.

Patterson was persistent, he said, and finally managed to reach a detective of the Kingman Police Department as he attempted to glean information of the case for Bowdon’s family. The detective was less than helpful, Patterson said.

“As a 20-plus year law enforcement officer, I was surprised at his uncaring attitude,” Patterson said. “It rubbed me the wrong way as a chief of police, and I would hope he does not treat other victims’ family that way.”

Patterson remained in Havasu this Friday to fulfill a promise he made to Bowdon’s surviving family – to watch over Bowdon’s 82-year-old father, also of Patagonia.

“I am waiting for the facts to be documented and released,” Patterson said. “My personal confidence-level is low. As for the officers who took the life of my friend and fellow first-responder, I am sorry that he put himself in that position. I am also sorry if the officers erred in firing the first shot, all the way to the tenth shot, and putting themselves in that position. I have their names, but I am even more curious why they are withholding their names.”

According to Kingman Police Department public information officer Rusty Cooper, there is little information the department is able to release so early in the investigation.

“It’s an open, ongoing criminal investigation,” Cooper said. “I can only imagine the emotional impact this has had on the people who knew (Bowdon). People want answers, and we understand that, but there are protocols and procedures we have to follow. We still have people to interview in this case, and we don’t want to compromise those interviews by releasing information prematurely. We have to conduct key aspects of this investigation before we release information such as the names of the officers involved.”

According to Lake Havasu City Police Sgt. Tom Gray, the Kingman Police Department’s investigation will discover whatever facts of the case remain to be heard.

“We have the utmost confidence that the Kingman Police Department will conduct a thorough investigation as they have in the past,” Gray said. “We do not want to jeopardize that investigation by speaking out of turn at this point.”

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